As the month of July comes to a close, and August shines bright on the horizon, it’s time to reflect on the latest developments from the last 31 days. We’ve selected ten of the best Robotics articles of July 2018, to help you get up to speed with what’s been going on in the world of Robotics over the last month.
By James Vincent
Plants, as we all know, need light in order to thrive. They bend towards sunlight to drink in its power. But they have no legs to make it easier to quench that thirst. Crabs do have legs, but are oddly displeased by the idea of having a flowerpot glued to their back. Spoilsports. Luckily for plant-kind, a company called Vincross has built a kind of robotic crab that doesn’t mind scuttling around your flat, finding the sunniest spots to deliver sunlight to the plant on its back. Genius.
By James Vincent
I quite agree. In all the excitement about automating everything, driving up profits and efficiency, not enough people are considering the sheer level of disruption the automation revolution will cause. We need to be prepared for every possible outcome, as argued by Calum Chace in my recent interview with him, which you can read here.
By Evan Ackerman
Racism and robots. Jeez. What is it with us humans? But hold up. Is this really an issue of race? Is it really a ‘race’ thing that white robots are more popular than black ones? I mean, it’s not as though most robots are humanoid enough to be endowed with different skin tones. This isn’t Humans (Channel 4). Aside from that Sophia thing, most of these robots are coated in plastic. White just looks sleeker and more futuristic, right? Is it racist to say that a jet black robot doesn’t fit with most household decor, and looks a bit retro and slightly unnerving? Is this just my white privilege talking? Make your own mind up with this thought-provoking interview with Professor Christoph Bartneck from the University of Canterbury.
By Kristin Houser
Tiny, scuttling robots equipped with cameras are being tested by Rolls-Royce as a way to assist aircraft engineers with the tricky tasks involved in working on an aeroplane engine. The bots could, according to Rolls-Royce, be further developed to actually perform repairs. Reportedly, they could potentially complete five hours’ work in five minutes.
By Joi Ito
This is, without a doubt, one of the absolute best articles I have read across any area of tech news, and not just from July. It is a wonderfully thoughtful and insightful piece exploring the different cultural and theological reasons for differing attitudes to robots, invoking notions of the spirit, of monotheism versus Buddhist notions of ‘oneness’, slavery and hierarchy, and looking back into the history of civilisation. I cannot recommend this article highly enough. You need to read it.
By Mae Ryan and Cade Metz
Robots that can pick stuff up. Well, to the layperson, this might sound a bit banal, but for anyone working in robotics, particularly industrial robotics, the various developments being made in the field are quite fascinating. If you enjoy this piece, we recommend checking out Tra Robotics (full disclosure: we do their marketing).
By Evan Ackerman
This month, DARPA announced a new program called SHRIMP: SHort-Range Independent Microrobotic Platforms. They are calling for submissions of projects developing tiny robots that could potentially be used in disaster relief situations. Both components and integrated robots will compete in “a series of Olympic-themed competitions [for] multi-functional mm-to-cm scale robotic platforms,” performing tasks “associated with maneuverability, dexterity, [and] manipulation.”
By David Z Morris
Ooh, watch out! The SpotMini is coming out. You know SpotMini, right? That’s the robot that looks like a headless dog and which can open doors and stuff. Well, Boston Dynamics have finally announced that the robot that inspired the Black Mirror episode, Metalhead, is now commercially available. Just don’t let it near the knife drawer.
By James Vincent
If you’re a parent, you have probably yelled the phrase “I don’t have 6 arms!” I tend, personally, to opt for “I am not an octopus!” which more adequately suits my surreal nature. But, guess what? Now you may be able to have your very own extra arms! Engineers from Kyoto’s Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute have demonstrated how people can be taught to control a third robotic arm with their brains, even using the limb to multitask. No excuses now, fellow breeders!
By Jennifer Chu
Boston Dynamics is back again, this time with its Cheetah 3. Cheetah 3 looks a lot like SpotMini, but its capabilities are slightly different. As in, it can negotiate its way around obstacles without any cameras or external environmental sensors. It can leap and gallop around fallen debris on rough terrain, climb stairs and restore its own balance when knocked over. It’s perhaps even more like the Metalhead robot from Black Mirror than SpotMini. Sweet dreams, y’all.
These articles represent our team’s recommendations for the best Robotics articles in July 2018, but you may have other suggestions. Drop us a link in the comments, so others can enjoy the articles you have also found interesting this month.
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